Well, like so many games this season, I had to take my heart medication during the game on Sunday, but the Bills managed to pull out a win against the confusingly underachieving Chargers. L.A. should have a better record than they do based on the talent of that team, yet they are badly coached, and one must wonder if Anthony Lynn is going to be the coach next season. My thought would be no.
The Bills came off their bye reasonably healthy (minus Ford and Brown), but they struggled much more than Bills Mafia was hoping. Still, a win is a win, so they say, so in that spirit, here are my thoughts on the game.
If you missed the game, here are the highlights to catch you up:
10 Things I Think I Think
1. Can we just cut G Brian Winters?
I think I speak for all of Bills Mafia when I say that I would not bat an eye if Brian Winters was cut from the squad this week. He locks things down in pass protection about as well as Jerry Lee Lewis locked down wives! (He had seven.) How this guy is still in a starting position is a head-scratcher. Is he blackmailing the Pegulas with some Watergate-level shenanigans? Is he dating one of McDermott’s relatives? Is it possible that Winters has the Infinity Gauntlet and is using it to manipulate the front office? All of these possibilities are more plausible than the idea that he is starting because of his play on the field. Wouldn’t we all rather see Boettger, Bates, Nsekhe, Adams, or (as one fan suggested yesterday on the pregame show) Brian Daboll out there playing Guard?
2. The running game got on track.
Well, it was about time. The Bills runnings backs amassed 141 yards on the ground at over seven yards per carry. “Motor” Singletary looked shifty and slick while Zach “Business Decision” Moss would not be denied his yards. The offensive line with Morse was so much better at giving these young bucks enough space to get going, and as the weather gets worse in Orchard Park and abroad, we’re going to need that run game to be at least functional.
3. How ’bout that Buffalo defense?
The Bills defense came to play on Sunday at 1 pm. They were consistently pressuring young Herbert, making him force throws early, and they showed McDermott’s patented bend but don’t break style most of the game. The Chargers, with all of their firepower, struggled to get into the end zone yesterday, and they were stopped at many key moments. Even when the defense was put in a bad position as a result of three turnovers, they played well, and they stayed tough into the final seconds. Stopping the run has been our biggest weakness this season (and during McDermott’s tenure), but on Sunday, the Bills held Austin Ekeler, a talented runner, to only 44 yards on 1 rushes for 3.1 yards per carry. I’ll take that.
4. A.J. Klein is balling right now.
Watching A.J. Klein run is like watching 2001: A Space Odyssey at half speed: slow (if you hadn’t picked up that). But the fact is, the man is making tackles, pressuring the quarterback, being serviceable in coverage, and limiting opposing offenses. Yesterday, Klein had 14 tackles, a pass defensed, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, and no excessive celebration penalties. I don’t know what clicked in his head, but keep it up A.J!
5. Gabe Davis … I see you, son!
That catch by Mr. Gabriel Davis on Sunday was what I’ve been looking for in this young man all season. (I call him Mr. because that was a grown-ass man catch!) Standing 6’2″, Davis has the strength and athleticism to fight for 50/50 balls, and the catch along the sideline for 44 yards was a thing of beauty. He high-pointed the ball and used his hands to go get it instead of allowing the ball to fall to his chest. Davis led the team in receiving yards on Sunday with 79, and with Brown out, that sort of performance is going to be required to win going forward.
6. Dawson Knox needs to get on the blocking equivalent of the JUGS machine.
I don’t know why Tyler Kroft was inactive yesterday. Yes, Knox had the nice TD grab in the end zone, but that was his entire contribution to the game. I have to tell you, I cringe when I see Knox trying to block DEs or OLBs. He struggles to hold up at the point of attack, and Joey Bosa consistently sent him at the little kid’s table. If what we are looking for is blocking help, I’d much rather see Kroft, Smith, or Gilliam (I like that kid.) chucking defenders. Also, Lee Smith had one more receiving yard that Knox yesterday … just saying.
7. Tremaine Edmunds is coming into form.
The Kaiju, Tremaine Edmunds, is looking like his old self. Like Godzilla in 1985 after he is recharged with lightning, Edmunds is energized, ready to fight, and again looking like a top-shelf middle linebacker, and we need him to be. Edmunds finished the game with 11 tackles. It’s a good sign that he and Klein led the team in tackles. It means the defensive line was keeping them clean, and they were hitting their gaps. I love the Kaiju, and I can’t wait to see how this defense looks with the return of Matt “Cosa Nostra” Milano! Could our boys finally have figured it out?
8. Andre Roberts really wanted to bust one on Sunday.
Man, you could see it on his face. After returns, Roberts looked consistently frustrated that he didn’t bust a huge return, but even in a game where he looked frustrated, Roberts averaged almost 30 yards per kick return and almost nine per punt return. These numbers add up, and an argument could be made that Roberts is one of the Bills best offensive weapons this season as a return guy. Isn’t it comforting knowing that this man is not going to fumble or botch kicks (knock on wood)? How many times have we seen the Bills piss a game away because of stupid return fumbles over the years? The way he’s playing, Beane has got to be thinking of trying to lock him down.
9. Brian Daboll is … confusing.
I imagine defenses do not like going against Daboll’s offense because they have no idea what kind of game plan he is going to call. Hell, I don’t know if he knows what kind of game he is going to call. The plans do seem predicated on the opponent’s weakness as opposed to our strengths, and there were times yesterday I was left scratching my head at certain call and times I was shocked and amazed! How about that Beasley TD pass? To quote the late, great Ricardo Montalbán … “Me gusta!”
10. Josh Allen has got to be better.
It’s comforting to know that Allen does not have to be the second coming of Johnny Unitas for the Bills to win games. Yesterday, the defense, running game, and special teams all did their part to hold on to a win while Allen had a pedestrian game. I love his ability to draw defenders offsides. That is a great skill. He was efficient yesterday, passing for 157 yards at 6.5 YPA and a completion percentage of 75%. I’ll take it, but he has got to learn to hand the ball off on read-option plays. Seriously, he seems to take the ball on like 90% of read options (exaggeration, I know), and defenses know it, which is why he is getting blown up on those plays. After a scary play where Bosa made an Allen-pretzel, he has got to do a better job of taking care of himself, and Daboll needs to be careful with this young man. The fumbled snap … I don’t know whose fault that was. But that interception was Allen’s fault, and it was ugly. Still, Allen was running for his life all day yesterday, and he’s got to learn to throw the ball away. If we are going to do anything this season, Allen needs to be healthy, and he has shown he can get it done with his arm. Trust Motor and Business Decision to run, and let’s quit these QB powers. Keep my boy healthy. We are going to need him.
- How about that Tre Day pick? You sly dog, you!
- Ed Oliver seemed to come out to play yesterday, and that roughing the passer penalty was weak sauce. Way to go, Captain Insano!
- It was nice seeing A.J. Epenesa and Darryl Johnson contributing. I thought Epenesa did a great job of setting the edge and bringing consistent push.
- How about Tyler “Seabass jr.”? He is playing well, and kudos to McDermott for being patient with this kid. He’s got a leg, and his confidence looks sky high right now.
- Corey Bojorquez averaged 56 yards per punt yesterday. Yes, he booted a couple long into the end zone, but man, that is a feat. To put that in context, Slingin’ Sammy Baugh still holds the record for the longest average yards per punt in a season with 51.4. Nice job, Bojo! I’ll forget that shank last week, but grow back the stache!
- I don’t know what the referees were doing yesterday. And, at times, it went both ways, but the celebration penalties, particularly the Zach Moss one, were confounding. Be better, NFL!
Thanks for reading, y’all! If you have any thoughts, complaints, or violent disagreements, feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @adamnannini!